Refugee Crisis

Remarks by President Donald Tusk at the leaders’ summit on the global refugee crisis | European Council – Press Release

“First of all, allow me also to join others in expressing appreciation for President’s Obama initiative to call this meeting.

In Europe, we are in no doubt, that today, one of the most urgent actions the international community must undertake, is the strengthening of the common response to the refugee crisis.

In comparison to other states who are present here today, the European Union stood out in 2015 as unable to effectively protect its external borders. This time of uncontrolled migration is coming to an end, and it won’t repeat itself. The final goal we are aiming at, is that the refugees will get asylum in EU member states through resettlement, and not by embarking on a risky often tragic journey organised by smugglers.

Our determination to protect the EU’s external border does not change the fact that Europe will remain the most open continent in the world. And the EU countries together with the United States will continue to make up the backbone of world humanitarian efforts.

Let me highlight the most significant actions the European Union is currently undertaking. Our humanitarian assistance to refugees worldwide has increased, from 1.35 billion euros in 2015 to 1.7 billion euros in 2016. And here I am only talking about the EU budget and not the national budgets of our 28 member states. Part of this funding is helping children to go to school in emergency settings. We provide significant financial and technical support to those countries who host most of the Syrian refugees, notably Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Our Compacts with those countries will help both refugees and people living in host communities to access education and to find a job. With regard to the Syrian crisis specifically, the EU has provided over 6.2 billion euros, which includes 3 billion euros pledged from the Union’s budget at the “Supporting Syria” conference in London last February.

And finally, we are determined to strengthen the economic resilience of the countries affected by the refugee crisis, and the European Investment Bank will play its role in this respect.

Let me invite all international partners and stakeholders to step up their contributions. Only working hand in hand can we succeed in handling the refugee crisis. Thank you.”

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MEPs urge EU countries to use €1.3bn budget refund to honour refugee aid pledge| European Parliament – Newsrooms

EU member states should use a €1.349 billion EU budget refund for 2015 to honour their pledges to contribute to two EU trust funds set up to tackle the refugee crisis, urge MEPs in a resolution voted on Wednesday. Parliament approved a Commission proposal to amend the EU’s 2016 budge in order to include a positive balance from 2015. This balance is to be refunded in the form of a reduction in member states’ contributions.

“I would like to stress that this amending budget will result in a €1.349 billion reduction in national contributions to the EU budget. I consider that it is of utmost importance that member states use the opportunity of such an unexpected refund to honour their pledges in relation to the refugee crisis and to match the EU contribution to the two dedicated trust funds. I would like to urge them to do so”, said rapporteur José Manuel Fernandes (EPP, PT).

MEPs note “with concern” that in spring 2016, “member states have only contributed €82 million to the Africa Trust Fund and €69 million to the Madad Trust Fund on the Syrian crisis, while the Union’s contributions stand at €1.8 billion and more than €500 million respectively”, says the report.

The €1.349bn positive balance is due to the EU receiving more revenue than expected (mainly from exchange rates differences and from competition fines paid towards the end of 2015) and from minor under-implementation of the expenditure.

The report was approved by 591 votes to 68, with 44 abstentions.

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Debate on new EU plan to address root causes of migration | European Parliament Newsroom

A new EU plan to address the root causes of migration will be presented by the EU Commission and debated in plenary on Tuesday. The new “partnership framework with third countries”, prepared by Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, foresees using EU funds to promote private investment in migrants’ countries of origin, particularly in Africa.

Also, to make migrant “returns” policy more effective, the Commission wants to accelerate the negotiation of “readmission” agreements with key countries, such as Pakistan and Afghanistan, in addition to the 17 already in force.

Review of the “blue card” for highly-skilled migrants and action plan for integration

In a later debate on Tuesday afternoon, MEPs will assess two other migration proposals to be presented by the Commission: a review of the “blue card” system governing admission conditions for highly qualified third-country nationals and a new action plan on integration.

You can watch the plenary debates via EP Live, and EbS+.

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Commission to announce New Migration Partnership Framework: reinforced cooperation with third countries to better manage migration | European Commission – Daily News

This afternoon, meeting in Strasbourg, the College of Commissioners is expected to set out plans for a new results-oriented Partnership Framework to mobilise and focus EU action and resources in our external work on managing migration. Under this Framework, the EU will seek tailor-made partnerships with key third countries of origin and transit using all policies and instruments at the EU’s disposal to achieve concrete results. The priorities are saving lives at sea, increasing returns, enabling migrants and refugees to stay closer to home and, in the long term, helping third countries’ development in order to address root causes of irregular migration. Member State contributions in these partnerships – diplomatic, technical and financial – will be of fundamental importance in delivering results. A press release, memo and factsheet will be available online

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European Parliament Agenda | The Week Ahead 06 – 12 June 2016

Plenary session and committee meetings, Strasbourg

Migration compact. A new EU plan to address the root causes of migration will be presented by the EU Commission and debated in plenary on Tuesday afternoon. The “migration compact”, prepared by Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, foresees using EU funds to promote private investment in migrants’ countries of origin, particularly in Africa.

Integrating legal migrants. In a following debate, MEPs will discuss new plans by the EU Commission to set up uniform, efficient legal immigration procedures for those entitled to stay as well as an action plan for integration of third-country nationals. (Debate Tuesday)

Turkey. MEPs will debate the state of democracy in Turkey after 138 members of the Turkish parliament had their immunity lifted. Respect of fundamental rights is one of the conditions for a rapid introduction of visa-free travel for Turkish citizens as part of an arrangement for managing migration. (Debate Wednesday)

Juncker plan mid-term review. The first results of the European Commission’s ‎€315 billion investment plan for Europe will be debated on Wednesday morning with Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen. Most of the EU co-financed projects so far lined up to boost jobs and growth are in France, the UK, Italy and Germany.

Inquiry committee. Following the “Panama Papers” revelations about some 200,000 offshore letterbox companies, the, MEPs will vote on the creation of an inquiry committee to investigate alleged contraventions and maladministration in the application of EU laws on money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion. (Vote Wednesday)

Taxing multinationals. MEPs will give their opinion on the Commission’s proposal for an anti-tax avoidance directive on Tuesday morning and vote on a resolution on Wednesday. The proposal aims to close loopholes used by corporate tax avoiders.

Endocrine disruptors. Parliament is set to reiterate its demand that the European Commission publish the over-due scientific criteria needed to identify and tackle exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals. These criteria should have been published by the end of 2013. (Vote Wednesday)

Removing hurdles to free movement. Parliament will vote on new EU rules to facilitate the free movement of citizens by simplifying procedures for proving the authenticity of their personal public documents, such as birth or marriage certificates, in other EU member states. To avoid the need for translation, the provisions would introduce new multilingual EU forms to be attached to the documents. (Debate Wednesday, vote Thursday)

President of Bulgaria. Rosen Plevneliev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria, will deliver a speech in the European Parliament on Wednesday at 12.00. The future of Europe and the current challenges that the EU is facing are expected to be among the topics addressed.

President’s diary. Parliament’s President Martin Schulz will meet Georgia’s President Giorgi Margvelashvili on Tuesday. On Wednesday he will meet Bulgaria’s President Rosen Plevneliev and hold a joint press point following Mr Plevneliev’s formal address to the plenary session.

Pre-session press briefing. The EP Press Service will hold a press briefing at 16.30 on Monday. (EP Press conference room, Strasbourg

Click here for the schedule of the days

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EU-Turkey Readmission Agreement: Provisions for Third Country Nationals Enter into Force | European Commission – Daily News

Additional provisions enter into force today under the Readmission Agreement signed by the EU and Turkey on 16 December 2013. As of today, all Member States (excepting Denmark and Ireland, which decided not to join the Agreement) can also request that Turkey readmits irregular third country nationals who entered the EU directly from Turkey. This is in addition to the provisions for readmission of Turkish citizens which have been in force since 1 October 2014. The entry into force of the provisions related to the readmission of third country nationals was initially scheduled for 1 October 2017. At the Summit of 29 November 2015 the EU and Turkey agreed to advance its application to 1 June 2016 in order to accelerate the visa liberalisation process. A full and effective implementation of the Readmission Agreement is one of the requirements included in the Visa Liberalisation Roadmap for Turkey. Today’s entry into force of the provisions related to third-country nationals under the EU-Turkey Readmission Agreement enables Turkey to make another step forward towards completing the fulfilment of the requirements under the visa liberalisation process

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European Parliament Agenda | The Week Ahead 30 May – 05 June 2016

Committee and political group meetings, Brussels

European Border and Coast Guard. Plans to create a European Border and Coast Guard Agency, bringing together the EU’s Frontex border agency and national border authorities, will be put to a vote in the Civil Liberties Committee. The new agency’s mandate would empower it to intervene at EU external frontiers where urgent action is required, even if the EU countries concerned have not asked for help. (Monday) Press conference by rapporteur Artis Pabriks (EPP, LV) on Tuesday at 09:00.

Returning third-country nationals staying illegally in the EU/Safe countries of origin. Plans to introduce a standard EU travel document for non-EU nationals who are staying in the EU without proper papers and who are to be expelled from a member state to their country of origin, will also be voted in the Civil Liberties Committee. The aim is to speed up the return process. Separately, the Committee will debate amendments to a proposal on safe countries of origin. (Monday)

Exchanging information on criminal records of non-EU nationals. Civil liberties MEPs will vote on whether to expand the existing system for sharing criminal records among the 28 national judicial authorities to include non-EU nationals. This would update the European Criminal Records Information system (ECRIS) to enable national judges to check non-EU nationals’ criminal records anywhere in the EU with one single request. (Monday)

Minorities in Syria and Iraq. A public hearing on the plight of minorities caught up in the Syrian civil war and the war waged by ISIS will be held by the Human Rights Subcommittee. The panel will include representatives of some of the key minorities of the region, e.g. Christian, Turkmen and Yazidi Aim. (Monday)

Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) report. The FRA’s Director Michael O´Flaherty will table and discuss its 2015 annual report with Civil Liberties Committee MEPs. The report deals with issues such as migration and the refugee crisis, the upsurge of racist and xenophobic incidents in member states and the consequences of the recent terrorist attacks for fundamental rights. (Monday)

Plenary preparations. Political groups will prepare for the 6 – 9 June plenary session in Strasbourg. Agenda items include votes on draft rules against certain tax avoidance practices, fine-tuning plans for a “Panama Papers” inquiry committee, discussing unfair trading practices in the food supply chain, preparing follow-up questions to the Council on investigations into the use of torture by the CIA and quiz the Commission on the early impacts of the EU investment plan which will be up for a midterm review.

President’s agenda. EP President Martin Schulz will meet Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on Tuesday at 15.00 in Brussels. On Friday, he will travel to Lisbon to meet Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues, President of the Assembly of the Republic of Portugal at 11.00, then Prime Minister António Costa at 12.15. At 19.30, he will meet Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

Pre-session press briefing. The EP Press Service will hold a press briefing with the EP’s political group spokespersons at 11.00 on Friday. (Anna Politkovskaya room, press centre, Brussels)

Click here for more info

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European Union commits to action at the World Humanitarian Summit | European Commission – Daily News

At the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, the European Union has committed to strengthen prevention and preparedness, improve the international response and help find solutions to support an overstrained humanitarian system. The European Union (EU) is committed to strong progress on each of the five core responsibility areas, for which core commitments have been formulated by the UN. It pledged individual commitments at the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) concerning policies, programmes and funds it is responsible for. The key priorities advanced by the EU at the Summit include: investment in resilience, efficient and effective financing, respect for International Humanitarian Law, preventing and ending crises, and bridging the divide between humanitarian and development work. The first-ever World Humanitarian Summit is an opportunity for the global community to strengthen and reshape humanitarian action for the coming years. The European Union, represented by Vice-President of the European Commission Kristalina Georgieva, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides and EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica, has announced concrete actions at the Summit. The press release is available here.

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European Parliament Agenda |The Week Ahead 16 – 22 May 2016


EU-Turkey deal/Greece. Civil Liberties Committee MEPs will go on a fact-finding mission to Greece to check on the situation at the EU’s external borders and evaluate the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal on refugees. They will travel to the FYROM border to assess the situation there after the closure of the so-called Balkans route, and to Lesvos, to see how asylum applications are processed and visit both open and closed reception facilities. MEPs will also go to Athens to meet representatives of the Greek government, EU and international bodies, as well as NGOs. They will hold a press conference in Athens, on Friday at 10:00. (Wednesday to Friday)

Refugees/Lebanon and Jordan. Budgets Committee MEPs will visit Lebanon and Jordan to report on EU funding for both countries to help them cope with the refugee crisis and to foster development cooperation and European Parliament support for UNRWA. (Monday to Thursday)

EU funds/Ukraine. Budgetary Control Committee MEPs will visit Ukraine for a fact-finding mission into EU financial aid provided since the Maidan revolution to support Ukraine’s stabilisation and reform process. They will look into how the aid is being used on the ground and how Ukraine is coping with corruption and whether this affects EU funds. (Monday to Thursday)

European Youth Event (EYE). The second edition of the European Youth Event (EYE2016) takes place at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. “Together we can make a change” is the motto of the event where 7,500 Europeans aged 16-30 will make their voices heard in debates with MEPs and other political decision-makers and opinion-builders. The ideas discussed at the EYE will be presented to MEPs. (Friday and Saturday)

President’s diary. EP President Martin Schulz will visit Canada to meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland, Senate Speaker George Furey and House of Commons Speaker Geoff Regan, on Wednesday. Mr Schulz will go to the United Nations Headquarters in New York to meet Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday.

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Germany’s gambit: Turkey and the refugee crisis , by J. Janning | ECFR – European Council on Foreign Relations

Angela Merkel may be the last politician standing in favour of a European response to the refugee crisis. At this stage she has no choice but to stick to her policy because a change in Germany’s approach would have massive consequences for the EU. If Berlin were to announce a limit to the number of arrivals (as the Austrian government did), or close the borders to migrants (as Sweden did), Schengen would not survive one week. Like in Sweden or in Austria, the German government has to bring down the number of arrivals in 2016. Merkel might not be able to survive another year if immigration continues at 2015 levels. Unlike most other European countries, Germany has to decrease the number of arrivals through a European scheme, even if Berlin is the only actor following this approach.

Read the full Article here

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